The offering is in line with Google's mission to expand its display ad capabilities, and will serve as a complement to DoubleClick services intended for larger publishers.
Google has added to its ever-expanding suite of ad services with an application that helps small to mid-size publishers manage and optimize their ad inventory, even if they sell those ads themselves.
The new service, called Ad Manager, debuted just days after Google completed its $3.1 billion acquisition of ad management firm DoubleClick. The search giant said the service is intended as a complement to DoubleClick's Revenue Center, a similar offering for powering vertical ad networks aimed at publishers with larger sales forces.
Ad Manager allows publishers to schedule, deliver and measure ads they sell themselves, as well as those in the Google AdSense system. Publishers can enter their own ad codes into the system, which will then generate reports on their performance. If a publisher has unsold ad inventory, Ad Manager will generate the best-performing placement from AdSense.
The service, which is still in Beta mode, has been tested by a handful of sites, including Yearbook.com and Washingtonian.com. It will be available for free and accessible via any Web interface, but for now it is available by invite only.
The move was not unexpected following the DoubleClick acquisition, which was first announced in April of last year. Observers noted it was a natural complement not only to that company's services, but to the growing collection of Google's ad-serving applications and its stated intention to become a virtual warehouse for every advertiser's ad assets.
"We have a long term horizon here which is we want every advertiser in the world to put all of their assets into our system," Google President, Advertising and Commerce, North America Tim Armstrong told the audience at the Bear Stearns Media Conference earlier this week.
"Ad Manager is another play to be 'the' transactional platform of the advertising ecosystem," said Max Kalehoff, VP of marketing at Clickable and a former executive with Nielsen Buzz Metrics. "It extends on top of the more automated AdSense and provides Google a way to get involved with the management of the more premium inventory and strategic buying and selling that typically takes place with real, human sales forces and brand advertising. Parallel with the DoubleClick acquisition, this is another move to diversify and go higher up the advertising value chain."
At the Bear Stearns event, Armstrong stressed Google's goal to become "a very significant presence in the display market" in the next two years.
"The biggest positive impact we've seen is increased efficiency," said Robin Liss, president and CEO of Ad Manager test publisher Reviewed.com. "Our salespeople have been eager to input data as soon as insertion orders come in."
Google gave assurances that this new service would not affect existing DoubleClick customers, and also reaffirmed its intention to continue charging for that company's services, despite rumors that it eventually plans to offer DoubleClick ad serving for free.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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